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Big Ten Media Days: Warren talks conference realignment; has 'no regrets' about how Big Ten handled '20 season
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Big Ten Media Days: Warren talks conference realignment; has 'no regrets' about how Big Ten handled '20 season

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Big Ten Media Days Football

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren speaks during Big Ten Media Days on July 22 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

College Football Playoff expansion proposals. COVID-19 procedures. Name, image and likeness. And suddenly, conference realignment.

Yeah, there's plenty on the plate of Kevin Warren, who is in his second year as commissioner of the Big Ten.

"We're at an inflection point in college in college athletics," Warren said during Big Ten Media Days on Thursday in Indianapolis.

"That's the world that we live in right now. We're always constantly evaluating what's best for the conference."

Conference realignment came to the forefront Wednesday, when media reports surfaced that Oklahoma and Texas have reached out to the Southeastern Conference.

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Warren was asked if a potential shakeup between the Big 12 and SEC forces the Big Ten to reevaluate where it stands with its 14-team alignment.

"We're always constantly evaluating what's in the best interest of the conference," he said without going into much detail.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren speaks with the media on NIL, the College Football Playoff expansion and more at the 2021 Big Ten Football Media Days.

The Big Ten also is keeping a close watch on College Football Playoff expansion. A proposal to add eight more teams is on the table.

Warren did not have any concrete answer when asked if an expanded playoff changes things like divisional formats for the league but added the Big Ten is gathering internal viewpoints over the next couple of months.

Some other notes from Warren:

* The Big Ten was among the conferences to initially cancel the 2020 college football season before reviving it more than a month later. Warren drew a lot of criticism over the decision, especially from within Nebraska.

Warren said he has no regrets about how the Big Ten navigated through it.

"Quite naturally we all look back over our lives and are there things that we wished that would have done maybe done a little bit differently?," Warren said. "But if I had the chance to do it all over last year, I would make the same decisions that we made."

Warren admitted, communication between the Big Ten and its schools was not perfect and could have been cleaner. But that has improved, he added.

"All in all, as I look back last year was a year of gratitude," he said. "It was a very, very complicated time in our lives."

* The Big Ten continues to work on finalizing COVID-19 procedures for the upcoming athletics season, including how to handle forfeits.

Warren said the schools are in the process of forming their own protocols and will turn those over to the Big Ten in August.

* Barry Alvarez, who recently stepped down as Wisconsin's athletic director, has agreed to join the Big Ten as a special advisor.

Alvarez will work with Warren on College Football Playoff expansion proposals, bowl partnerships and media rights commitments.

* Warren said 1,843 of a possible 2,000 Big Ten games/events were completed — and not halted by COVID-19 — during the 2020-21 sports season. That's a 92% success rate.

"This was not a perfect time in the conference, but it was productive," Warren said.

Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.

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